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Huntsville, Alabama rests amid the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s a city that supports the very best in mankind. Marshall Space Flight Center celebrates the moments when we have yearned to know what lies beyond our home called Earth. 

What is the Marshall Space Flight Center

The Marshall Space Flight Center is the U.S. government’s civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest NASA center, MSFC’s first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo Moon program.

Marshall has been the agency’s lead center for Space Shuttle propulsion and its external tank; payloads and related crew training; International Space Station (ISS) design and assembly; and computers, networks, and information management.

Located on the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, MSFC is named in honor of Army General George Marshall.

History 

After the end of the Second World War, a program was initiated to bring to the United States a number of scientists and engineers who had been at the center of Germany’s advanced military rocket technologies. In August 1945, 127 missile specialists led by Wernher von Braun signed work contracts with the U.S. Army’s Ordnance Corps.

Most of these scientists and engineers had worked on the V-2 missile development under von Braun at Peenemünde. Von Braun and the other Germans were sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, joining the Army’s newly formed Research and Development Division Sub-office (Rocket).

The establishment of the Mashall Space Flight Center began with the transfer of the U.S, Army rocket program to the newly created National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) and its association with the nearby U.S. Army post at Redstone Arsenal. 

This is now a world renown center for space flight technology.

Let’s Explore Mars

One of the major projects at the Marshall Space Flight Center is a study of manned exploration of Mars. This effort will be preceded by the Mars 2020 rover.

The Mars 2020 rover will explore a site likely to have been habitable. It will seek signs of past life, set aside a returnable cache with the most compelling rock core and soil samples, and demonstrate technology needed for the future human and robotic exploration of Mars.

President Barak Obama set a goal of a manned mission to Mars by the 2030’s.

International Space Station

The International Space Station Payload Operations Center is a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facility that works in conjunction with the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Control Centers in Houston, Texas.

The Payload Operations Center at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is the headquarters for International Space Station science operations. This Control Center links earth-bound researchers and developers from around the world with their experiments and astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

It performs functions such as integration of research requirements, planning of science missions, ensuring the safe execution of science, integration of the crew and ground team training with research mission timelines, management of the use of space station payload resources, the handling of science communications with crew, and the management of command and data transmissions to and from the orbiting research center.

 

My exclusive access for this “behind the scenes” look at Marshall  Space Flight Center was hosted by the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX). Visitors to the facility must first secure access to Redstone Arsenal. If you have prior approval for a visit, you may enter through the Redstone Arsenal Visitor’s Center at Gate 9 on Research Park Boulevard/Rideout Road South.

However, I recommend that you begin at the nearby U. S. Space and Rocket Center, which is open to the public and offers bus tours to the Marshall Center.  

When you visit Huntsville be sure to check out your portal to Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow at the Marshall Space Flight Center and remember that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy a day learning about our outer space missions.

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